Chon Noriega, professor of film and television and director of UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center, has won the 2019 Distinguished Editor award from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals.

The award was announced today at the Modern Language Association conference in Seattle. Noriega received the award for his achievements as editor of Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies from 1996 to 2016. The Chicano Studies Research Center publishes the journal.

In addition, Aztlán won the council’s Best Public Intellectual Special Issue for “Dossier: Gringo Injustice,” which focuses on Latinos and the law. The dossier was guest edited by Alfredo Mirandé, professor of sociology and ethnic studies at UC Riverside.

This is the first time in CELJ award history that a journal editor has been honored with the Distinguished Editor Award the same year the journal won an award.

The Council of Editors of Learned Journals is an organization of editors of scholarly journals in all disciplines, and the major national organization in the United States dedicated to supporting academic journal publishing.

Celebrating its 50th year in 2020, Aztlán was founded as a double-blind, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to interdisciplinary scholarship on the Chicano community. Essays are in English, but the journal does publish occasional essays in Spanish. Published twice a year, the journal quickly became a critical element of the new field of Chicano studies, providing an important venue for new interdisciplinary ethnic studies scholarship, one whose rigorous review process also made it an important part of the promotion cases for the first generation of Chicano studies scholars in the American academy.

When Noriega became editor in 1996, the journal had fallen out of regular publication for nine years following the Fall 1987 issue. Noriega, working with a half-time managing editor, returned the journal to a regular publication schedule with the Spring 1997 issue. Noriega also appointed the journal’s first national editorial board representing the disciplinary range of the field, and he quickly built up a diverse and multigenerational submission pipeline that has kept the journal on schedule for over two decades.

The journal’s intellectual community, rigorous production standards, and commitment to knowledge production as key to social justice has been influential. Elias Wondimu, an exiled Ethiopia journalist and publisher who worked as the editorial assistant for Aztlán, later created Los Angeles-based TSEHAI Publishers, which has now published 100 books.

Wondimu also founded the International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, the first such academic journal published outside of Ethiopia by an Ethiopian publisher/editor. In an essay that will be published in Aztlán, Wondimu concludes: “What the Chicanos did in the 1970s inspired a young Ethiopian in the year 2000 to claim his own cultural heritage and to create a leading academic journal for his community.”